Apple's custom 5G modem won't be ready in time for iPhone 15, new report says

Apple's 5G modem might not be ready in time for the iPhone 15
The last piece of the puzzle that would make Apple non-reliant on Qualcomm–Cupertino's long-rumored line of custom 5G chips–might not be ready in time for the iPhone 15 series, DiGiTimes reports. 

Apple has been trying to develop its own proprietary 5G chip for years now, just like it makes its own line of A-series chips for its iPhones and M-series chips for its MacBooks and high-end iPads. However, issues have regularly pushed back the silicon, and despite our earlier expectations that we might finally see the silicon roll out along with the iPhone 15 lineup in late 2023, we might have to wait a bit longer still. 

iPhone 15 family won't feature an Apple-made 5G modem


Apple has reportedly ordered a significant amount of 5G and RF chips from Qualcomm, possibly the Snapdragon X70. Said 5G chip was announced earlier in 2022 and was advertised as the "world's 1st 5G AI processor in a 5G modem-RF system", which reportedly boosts 5G performance by a significant margin in both sub-6GHz and mmWave scenarios. The Snapdragon X70 is manufactured by TSMC, which expects a nearly full utilization of its 7/6nm process nodes in the second half of 2023, when iPhone 15 manufacturing would be in full swing.

All of these rumors generally fall in line with our expectations. Back in early November, Qualcomm revealed in a earnings report that it expects to be responsible for the majority of the iPhone 15 5G chip supply. Given the current state of events, the 2019 forecast that Apple wouldn't fully transition to its own proprietary iPhone 5G chips until 2025 now seems more and more plausible. 

Why would a proprietary 5G chip be beneficial to Apple and the regular iPhone user? Apple having complete control over the essential 5G connectivity element would ensure a tighter integration with the rest of the hardware inside your iPhone, which could potentially improve both the 5G uplink and downlink connectivity speeds, as well as the overall efficiency of the mod.

iPhone 15: What does the rumor mill say?


While we're still in the early days of the iPhone 15 family rumor barrage, we have heard an awful lot about Apple's next line of iPhones. There's some chatter that the iPhone 15 Pro Max could evolve into an iPhone 15 Ultra, of sorts, which could employ an improved, possibly full-titanium design. 

There's lots of rumors about a possible additional periscope camera, or at least a longer telephoto lens on said iPhone 15 Ultra. We would definitely see the return of the Dynamic Island, 1-120Hz ProMotion Liquid Retina XDR display, up to 8GB of RAM, and finally, a USB-C port that was commanded by EU law. Of course, there would be a brand new Apple A17 Bionic chipset powering it all, and rumor has it that this one would be built with TSMC's enhanced 3nm manufacturing node, which would most certainly introduce lots of performance and efficiency gains. Higher pricing could also be part of the iPhone 15 Ultra's feature list, which should come in logical given the rumored changes we've already detailed. 

The more "regular" iPhone 15 lineup will consist of the iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, and iPhone 15 Pro would all generally follow in the footsteps of their predecessors. We expect that the affordable iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus could get 120Hz displays, and there's some chance that the Dynamic Island design will trickle down to those models as well. 

As usual, we expect the iPhone 15 family to roll out sometime in September 2023, with an announcement in early September 2023, as is the Apple tradition. 

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